I vividly remember how eager I was to embrace a fresh start in high school. High school was emboldened to be this rite of passage that determined the trajectory of your life. It was supposed to be filled with pep rallies, major sporting events, crushes, dates, social ladders, homecoming, locker hangouts, yearbooks, graduation, and fun. It seems like everyone audibly envies those who are attending high school: Oh, enjoy your youth while you can. I wish I could have my old high school body back! To be young and free! Savor the moments because there will never be a time like this, again.
I wish I could compile every unrealistic depiction of high school and post it here, but I’m sure you can just watch a movie set in a high school, and understand.
Looking back, high school was brimming with insecurities over my shyness, hair, body, and popularity, while stressing about my course load, college, track meets, and the guys I had crushes on who I would never actually speak to. Prom wasn’t the best night of my life, I never kissed or dated until after I graduated, and I personally didn’t struggle with bullying or excessive drama. My experience wasn’t similar to anything portrayed in the movies and chances are, your experience won’t be either.
I am here to keep it real. I’m like that reading buddy you never knew you needed.
This school year may look different as we spearhead the new year with COVID-19 still looming over us, but you have to play with the cards you are dealt. You have the right to grieve certain rites of passage you may have missed out on due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t savor your experience for what it is. You, and every one of your peers attending high school right now is in the same boat so remember; you are not alone!
I asked my peers to share their prime advice for incoming or current high school students. We are here to spill the tea and dish it all out for your best interest.
“Join all the clubs that interest you; they don’t have to be long-term commitments. Try them out and experience them and if you find that they aren’t for you, that’s fine. But experience them, take pictures, and keep the friends you make. I personally was really upset I didn’t take more pictures throughout high school, but I’m trying to rectify that going forward.”
“High school will fly by. I know everyone will tell you that if they haven’t yet, but it’s the truth. When you start high school, make sure to stay true to yourself. Take classes you’re genuinely interested in and join sports/clubs you like. I used to take the same classes as my friends so we could be together, but it wasn’t until I branched out to classes I liked that I actually started enjoying the things I was learning. When you‘re interested in what you’re learning, you’re more likely to remember it and it won’t feel like something you ‘have to do.’
Another tip I have is get to know your teachers and don’t be afraid to ask for extra help. Getting to know your teachers well can only help you in the long run. They will be able to help you juggle classes and deadlines if you need them. I was the type to never ask questions, or go for extra help. even when I was confused. I still have trouble with it to this day, but high school is one of the best places to start feeling comfortable asking all the questions you have.
My last tip is to take a language class. It’ll help you so much in the future even if you’re only able to remember the basics. Remember to enjoy your time in high school and don’t forget to prioritize taking care of yourself!
“First things first; Congratulations on transitioning to high school! This is a great accomplishment!! When I think of my high school experience, it was filled with both challenging and positive moments, which can definitely shape how your college years will be. Attending three high schools was the biggest obstacle for me. I learned to truly make the best out of your experience wherever you are.
Get involved!! For example, join clubs, join the chorus, join the school play, get into the student council, play sports—even if you’ve never done it before. My other advice to you is to learn how to manage your time and prioritize your homework. Most importantly, don’t give up!!! You may feel defeated and want to quit, but you will make it through. Just seek guidance and support from your friends, family, and teachers. You got this!!”
–Chrystiana, @chrystianainspired, 25
“Involve yourself with extracurricular activities. Join a sport, even if you’re bad at it. Pay attention to your GPA. Take pictures. Make sure your classes are up to your academic level, meaning that if you think you’re an Honors student, make sure you’re enrolled in honors classes. Double check things with your guidance counselors. Don’t be scared to switch classes. Take as many interesting/obscure classes as possible. (TV and film, wood-shop, arts, acting) have fun with it, they’re not easy to find outside of school. Get a job and save money because college is more expensive than you think. Lastly, always have an agenda (book).”
“This advice comes straight from my mom: Everyone has their path. Don’t compare your path to someone else’s, and don’t let others judge your path. Don’t spend time worrying about what other people are doing. Just focus on being you and carving out that path.”
–Carolina, @so.the.adventure.continues, 23
“Get involved as much as possible. Join multiple clubs and organizations, become an executive board member, or create something new if nothing piques your interest. If not for the fun or personal growth, do it for your resume. Both jobs and colleges will be impressed with your involvement.
Start building your resume early. Resume building is frequently a task we hold off on, but it is essential for your future college and/or job search. Earlier I mentioned joining multiple clubs or organizations. If you’re too busy to be active in various clubs or organizations while in high school because you’re working, include that on your resume. Those job skills display the same abilities that clubs and organizations show. It isn’t about what you’re doing. They’re focusing on if you’re fling something. Hopefully, whatever that is, you make it fun.
Learn to disagree with your teacher and peers respectfully. Too often are we taught to respect your elders, not to talk back, or stop making a fuss. Productive disagreement when done so to better the situation, should never be viewed as disrespectful or making a fuss. If you do not agree with something or someone, find the right time to have that conversation. But know that sometimes there will never be the right time, and in those moments, find the best time.
There’s always an opportunity for change if you are willing to speak up and put in the work. Use high school as your training grounds to advance your conversation skills. The ability to have a respectful discussion while arguing opposing sides is a trait that will not only better you, but many employers would love.
Find a mentor. You don’t know it all, no one does. Find guidance from someone who is doing what you may want to do, be it personal or professional. A mentor will help you navigate through the difficulties of life and guide you on your journey. They won’t have all the answers, but if they can help you avoid a problem or two, wouldn’t you say it’s worth it?”
–Jean, @jeanisaiahjohnson, 27
My advice is to participate in school. When things return to the way they should, I found that involving myself made school more enjoyable. Extracurricular activities look great on college applications and can help score some scholarships. Plus, it’s a great way to mingle and befriend others. Participating in clubs and sports was an aspect of high school I carried with me to college, and I made my best friends through the clubs I joined.
It’s true what Andy said in The Office: “I wish there was a way for you to know you were in the good old days while you were in them.” Most school districts hold five-year, ten-year or 25-year reunions because high school in some aspects, represents your final bits of teenage adolescence. It concludes your final mandated educational programming with the peers you studied with for 10-12 years. When conversing with strangers, most people can collectively resonate with being a student in high school. It binds us together in a way!
I’d like to reiterate that high school is only four years of your entire life. Some of you will live to be 90 years old. High school doesn’t have to be melodramatic and awful, but it also won’t always be the most memorable years of your life. That’s okay!
As special, monumental, and sentimental as it all seems, believe me when I say, the rest of your life will outdo anything you ever accomplished in high school. Enjoy your time but remember, it gets better. So much better.
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